Back to Basics Winemaking & the Swartland Revolution!

14 Nov Bill pic.jpgABC is happy to add two great South African wines to our portfolio from A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines – Secateurs Chenin Blanc ($14.99) and Secateurs Red ($14.99). Winemaker and co-owner Adi Badenhorst, who trained in Bordeaux, the northern Rhône and New Zealand before becoming winemaker for nine years at Rustenberg, purchased 60 hectares in the Swartland in 2008 and set about making natural wine in the traditional manner.

Once something of an ignored area in South Africa’s Western Cape, the Swartland has grown in stature over the past decade and has become one of its most interesting appellations. A beautiful but sometimes wild, sometimes forbidding area it is now the home of The Swartland Revolution (‘We came, we saw, we revolted’) of which Adi Badenhorst is a founding member. The idea of the Revolution is to showcase the wines of the area. Despite whatever stylistic or philosophic differences the winemakers of the Swartland may have all will agree that it offers a true sense of place which can be enjoyed and detected in the wines.

Most vines in the area are bush vines, which is the original and most natural way of planting. With no trellis support, only pruning, the vines flourish in the wilderness and produce wines that have great character and depth, wines that are meant for enjoyment even more than idolization. When asked what he likes most in wine Adi replies “Just that it quenches your thirst. Wine that you can drink, and that can last and change in the glass. You must feel nourished after drinking wine. You mustn’t feel confused by wine.” Pretentious is the last thing that Adi Badenhorst is.

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Breakfast with Adi Badenhorst

Secateurs Chenin Blanc is beautifully simple and delicious. Crisp and vibrant, with pleasant citrus aromas and a dry finish it is the perfect white wine for our Florida weather. The current 2015 vintage is at the moment unrated but previous vintage ratings ranged between 90 and 92 points.

Secateurs Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache. Badenhorst’s vines are unirrigated, biologically farmed as much as possible and fermented in traditional concrete tanks. The current 2013 Secateurs Red was awarded 89 points by Wine Advocate (though when asked his view on wine scoring Adi replied “I don’t know. I’m no good at maths so it doesn’t work for me. If it’s more than 10, I get a bit nervous!”).

I had the pleasure of staying at Adi Badenhorst’s Kalmoesfontein farm in the Swartland a while back, along with a small group of wine specialists. It was, as you might expect, a very happy and laid-back time, with the emphasis on enjoying the wines in good company, in pleasant surroundings, and with great home-cooked food. Somehow it seemed wrong to discuss the wines too deeply, as wonderful as they were. The farm was a real ‘home’ – with Adi and his beautiful family making us perfectly at ease, and neighbors stopping by to join the festivities (and watch the rugby game). But my prime memory was after everyone else had gone to bed, sitting up until late at night with Adi, drinking that delicious South African Rooibos tea and talking about – not wine so much – but good books, life philosophies, the pleasure of collecting vinyl records, and our mutual affection for Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin.

I don’t think I need to say more about the wines. Try them. Enjoy them. Oh, and “Long live the Revolution!”

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Kalmoesfontein Farm

Bill Stobbs, Wine & Spirits Sales Manager
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinebills

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